As I took up Dan Brown's Da Vinci code, I just had an inklng its a murder-mystery variety. I had never read anything by this author before and usually I take pretty slowly to new authors. Even the PGW ones, I cannot move outside his jeeves stories even though they are touted to be much better than Reginald Jeeves. I haven't kept up with what's what in the book world off-late but looks like DaVinci Code is a pretty popular book. So far I have seen about 100 people at work..in my office bus, canteen, garden sitting around with this book in hand. As I started reading, the first thing that struck me was the James Bond kind of opening scene. You know the one that immediately ropes you into the middle of a tense encounter. The book much like a bond movie starts you up by throwing you into the middle of a tense situation. You dont know what the hell is happening, you put together whatever the characters are talking to each other and try and somehow make some sense out of it. Yes! of course by the time you realize you are involved deep into the book and you are turning pages swiftly. From a marketing standpoint it works! Not that I am against such starts... in fact I love them.
But strangely enough both Warrior Unleashed, written by ex- U.S Marine corps commando started with a similar stunning openening sequence. Where he narrates his experience in the 14 day boot camp that is intended to elimante and separate the boys from the men. "7 habbits.." also begins in a relatively intense situation, where the author's son is suffering from a syndrome and he explains how he went about solving it.
Books work like this mostly. They tie you in on a tense start and then slowly unwrap the environment to flow like a novel. It makes me think.. do the authors feel that a slow start and a build up would probably make the readers put down the book they paid and bought?? I don't know the level of adultration that happens to written work from the time the author feels he has done his final draft till the point the publishing house iterates it over and over to bring it to bestseller level. If it can happen to movie makers it can happen to authors too.
Neither Lord of the Rings nor Fountain Head begins this way. In fact The Fellowship of the Ring is so descriptive and non-action oriented at the start that midway the real readers will get separated from some punk who wants to just get done with the book for a school assignment. Most of the time I was reading it, I was so happy seeing the volume of pages remaining. It just reassured me that there were so many adventures the book was bound to take me to. Fountain head almost dissuades readers from pursuing the book and begins to kick in some action only after the reader persists with the book for quite some time. I guess books written in the first half of the century target people who simply love to read rather than a James Hadley Chase cover page which will attract any passer-by to buy it ( well..that worked for me too and I do think JHC is really good).
Nowadays its more marketing driven with the authors being given statistics on attention span and audience demography by the publishers so that he can have them in his mind while writing. Gone are the days when you will see a writer like the dead serious Somerset Maugham. Nothing wrong with the new age writers but the old ones weren't bad either.
DaVinci code has not dissapointed me so far in the four chapters that I have read. It seems to have setup a plot that makes me wanna read further. And the first chapter was quite stunning indeed. I remember JHC books being advertised as a "real page-turner" . Well So is this one.
Interestingly, Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors, has come up with a new book called "State of Fear" . It is another thriller but this time it is about global warming. The author, it seems makes a 5 page statement on the non-existence and hype about global warming. Michael Crichton can sometimes go overboard with his fantasy but I love is precise writing style with a lot of analytical bent. His use of italics and bold letters somewhat fascinate me. I haven't yet read "Prey" which is supposed to be another mouth-watery masala thriller. So watch out for State of Fear in a favorite book store near you! :-)